No dousing Inferno in the Classic
Trainer Cliff Brown produces his champion in great condition in the big 1,400m race at Kranji
It's settled. Inferno isn't just good. He's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. No question about it.
Yesterday, under a nice cloud shadow at the Kranji Racecourse, Inferno did what so many of us racegoers expected.
He took the $250,000 Singapore Classic in the style of a true champion.
One and three-quarter lengths was the winning distance in that race run over the 1,400m.
But ask the riders of the beaten brigade and they'll tell you that he was a mile in front and uncatchable.
Ridden by champion jockey Vlad Duric, the Cliff Brown-trained superstar was never really threatened.
While it was Mr Malek who was judged to be the Best Groomed horse in the paddock, Inferno was the best in the field.
Before the race, when lesser lights sweated and fretted, Inferno strode around like a quiet assassin.
Then again, when you look back, Inferno was hardly blowing on pulling up. That's the sign of a really good horse.
So, how did he sweep to victory in the Classic, which brought together the top three- and four-year-olds in Singapore?
Here's a recap.
On being sent on their way - and the starter did a terrific job - Duric took hold of his mount and had him settle behind the pace. Actually he had only three behind him after they had covered the initial 400m.
Given plenty of cover and racing just one-off the rails, Inferno simmered.
Out in front, the mare Sweet Angeline teased them witn a game of catch-me-if-you-can.
Mr Malek and the Leticia Dragon-trained Strong N Powerful were well and truly caught up in it.
Where was Inferno? He was smokin' and seemingly in no hurry.
Then they straightened for the run home.
Like as if a fuse had suddenly been lit, Inferno came alive. Two hundred metres out, he pulled alongside Mr Malek and Strong N Powerful.
If there were spectators in the grandstand, they would have risen from their seats and roared themselves hoarse. For they would have known they were witnessing something special.
As for the leading pack on the track, that surge effectively broke their will.
But, on reflection, it was an act of kindness. In the form he was in, never in a million years would Strong N Powerful and Mr Malek have beaten him - even if flogged to hell and back.
Inferno seemed to know where the winning post was and that it was the only place on a racecourse which mattered.
Five times already, he had reached it first. He would have relished that sixth occasion.
So again, if you must ask the question, well, the answer is now obvious.
Unless some other horse comes along to douse the flame, Inferno will remain the horse they all have to beat in the big sprints.
Yesterday, watching Inferno do his thing gave us goosebumps.
So three cheers to his trainer who presented him in such impeccable condition. And to the jockey who rode him a treat.
For the record, yesterday was a huge day for the champion jockey. The win of Inferno in the Singapore Classic was his fourth success of the day, coming after he had steered home his first three rides of the afternoon.
They were Miraaj in the opener, Solar Eclipse in the third and Hwasong in Race 6.
He had returned a blank sheet last Sunday. Now, a "quartet" of victories. What this tells you is that you can never keep a good man down.
Same too, a horse.